Saturday, January 28, 2012


Any french pastry, when warm from the oven, is well worth the effort to create it.  Seeing as croissants require a 14 hour window to produce, I had been waiting a while for the right day to dedicate. So I knew that on Saturday, after a days of balmy winter weather we finally had snow in the forecast, it was time to spend the day in the kitchen.  Yes, there was a lot of dough rolling and a giant brick of butter.  No, it was not the only thing I did that day.  But popping into the kitchen for 5 minutes every hour is not that cumbersome.  The hardest part is waiting!! But after they're baked, all fluffy and buttery and steaming ... oh boy.  The French got something very right here.

And you guessed it, half of them were filled with chocolate. Sinfully delicious.
If you're feeling bold and want to give it a go, do! I followed the recipe here.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I love butter.  Well, really who doesn't.  I may not have a Paula Dean level obsession where I top every creation with a giant knob, but in my eyes few things are as delicious.  Any carbohydrate, be it pasta or a biscuit, spaetzle or pancakes, is always better topped with butter.  Now if butter on carbs is always tasty then a butter packed loaf of bread has to be a no-brainer.

Enter Brioche.

Golden brown and so rich your hands have a nice oily sheen after you've inhaled a slice (I like mine toasted with a smear of raspberry jam).  I grabbed my trusty Baking cookbook by Dorie Greenspan and pulled together the simple recipe (p.48 , stand mixer with dough hook a must).  After baking one loaf I decided to use the second half of the batter for another sinful treat, a batch of Honey Pecan Sticky Buns (p.51)!  And since our small household couldn't kill the entire loaf before it going stale ... Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding (p.410) came to the rescue.   The waistline may not have been happy but my butter loving stomach sure was!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


One of my all time favorite treats from the elementary school cafeteria was the chocolate pudding. It was a creamy chocolate delight that accompanied my chicken nuggets and soft pretzel so perfectly. It brightened my school day. Alas, my palette has changed over the years and I don't get that same joyful feeling when I see pudding. I feel it lacks flavor and depth. Quite honestly it doesn't even taste like chocolate. While it may still appeal to others, I need an alternative. I decided to create my own chocolate pudding with the flavors I love. I was inspired by the Real Simple Ultimate Chocolate Pudding and kicked it up a few notches by adding espresso and booze. What was a school favorite is now an adult indulgence.

The Ultimate Chocolate Pudding Kicked Up a Notch
{Adapted from the Ultimate Chocolate Pudding from Real Simple}

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstartch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup Kahlua plus 1 teaspoon
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream
2 tablespoons Kahlua
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Set up a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, instant espresso and salt.  Gradually whisk in the milk, Kahlua, and then the egg yolks. Cook the milk mixture over medium heat while whisking constantly until thickened to the consistency of mayonnaise (about 7 to 8 minutes). Continue to cook, whisking for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, pour the mixture through the sieve into the bowl. Add the butter and chocolate and stir until melted. Mix in the vanilla and 1 teaspoon of Kahlua.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (so it doesn't form a skin) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  When serving the pudding stir it up and add the whipped cream.

Whipped Cream: Combine sugar, Kahlua, and whipping cream. Use an electric mixer or whisk and whip until the mixture forms soft peaks. Add it to the top of the pudding and enjoy.

Friday, January 6, 2012


When you think of a muffin, what type of muffin generally pops into your mind? Was your answer blueberry? Mine was. Well muffins aren't just for breakfast anymore. I am here to introduce you to a savory muffin. This Christmas, Meredith and I each received the cookbook Cupcakes & Muffins cookbook from our dad. This tiny book is jam packed with 100 recipes so I decided it was time to get started. My first muffin was the Buttermilk, Cheese and Bacon Muffins. What doesn't sounds good about that? This little baked delight is reminiscent of a biscuit, but so much easier. No rolling or cutting required. What makes this an extra special treat is the gooey, melted cheese in the middle. It is an unexpected element that ads depth and flavor. I would pair this muffin with a good soup, stew or even on its own.

Buttermilk, Cheese & Bacon Muffins
{Courtesy of Cupcakes & Muffins}

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup grated parmesan
1/2 chopped cooked bacon
4 tsp snipped chives
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz, camembert, cut into 12 pieces

Makes 12 Servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin pan. Sift flour & baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir in parmesan, bacon and chives. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Combine buttermilk, butter and egg. Stir into dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon into each muffin cup until each cup is 1/3 full. Add a piece of the camembert to each muffin and top evenly with remaining mix. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center of the muffin springs back when pressed. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or reheat gently before serving.